This is a story of ‘be careful what you wish for’.
A few days ago, Republicans in the United States voted to let ISPs (Internet Service Providers) sell your browsing history to advertisers.
The reality is that most people have nothing to hide, but it’s ultimately all about how you use this information against society that makes it frightening. Will you sell information about my search for a new job to my current employer so that they can hold back on a raise? Will political interests be sold off to adversaries so that I’ll bend to their will to avoid embarrassment? Will my banking information be sold to lenders or other institutions looking to find out my net worth without my permission?
Just a few of the many questions that will materialize in the new age of transparency.
ISPs argue that many companies like Google and Facebook already do this. The reality is that people should know this is done and that it is actually done with your permission.
It looks like the new legislation will make it possible to sell your information without your knowledge.
In reaction to this, an innovative activist (Adam McElhaney) started a crowd-funding campaign that would support the purchase of the internet history of every congressperson that supported this legislation. This history would include things like:
- Basic browser history
- Use of pornography
- Potentially clandestine relationships
- Medical history
- Business associations (and potential conflicts of interest)
- Personal banking information
- Other intensely private information that we take for granted every day
It’s a great idea. Legislators need to live by the laws they pass and appreciate the repercussions of what they impose on the rest of society.
They started with a goal of $10,000. I think they have succeeded: they’ve already raised $149,000 and counting. You can chip in with the GoFundMe page here.
Searchinternethistory.com is currently taking votes on which legislator should be ‘investigated’ first. It looks like it will be Paul Ryan.
And if there’s money left over? More histories will be … history and any excess after that will be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.